China's latest manned space mission blasted off on Tuesday evening, with three taikonauts embarking on a half-year-long mission that will see them officially finalise the construction of the Tiangong space station.
The launch of the Shenzhou-15 took place at 11.08pm from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwest of the country, after a see-off ceremony for the three taikonauts was held.
Onboard were taikonauts Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, with Fei as the commander. Docking with the Tiangong station came at 5:42am on Wednesday, about 6 1/2 hours after the Shenzhou-15 spaceship blasted off.
The space station will be handed over to them within a week by the three taikonauts who arrived at the station in early June.
During their stay in orbit, the Shenzhou-15 crew will witness the arrival of the Tianzhou-6 cargo craft and Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship. They will also have a work handover with the Shenzhou-16 crew in orbit.
In April 2021, China began construction of the three-module space station with the launch of the Tianhe module, the main living quarters for astronauts.
In July and November it launched the remaining two laboratory modules, Wentian and Mengtian, where scientific experiments will be performed.
The completion of the space station, designed for a lifespan of at least a decade, will be a milestone in Beijing's ambitions in low-earth orbit, with Nasa's aging ISS potentially ceasing operations by the end of the decade. (Agencies)
Last updated: 2022-11-30 HKT 11:07